With the new documentary on love addiction out today in Denmark (congrats Pernille!) it brought me back to remembering that uncomfortable place of trying to force a relationship. Mind you, I never thought of it as “force.” That would mean holding a gun to someone’s head. And I never did that. But what I did do was wrack my brain trying to figure out how to make my relationship work, and I expended a huge, imbalanced amount of energy trying to convince G that we were perfect for each other…if only he’d change just a little.
I spent hours writing in my journal trying to understand what I was doing wrong. I nagged G to “grow up” and recognize that I was the best thing that ever came his way. I put myself in compromisng situations all for the sake of “saving” the relationship. I gave up the possibility of healthy love and settled for meh. And, I hate to admit it, I lost a little dignity accepting and allowing his neglect and avoidance of me, all the while telling myself, “he just needs his space,” or “he really wants to be with me but he has emotional barriers he needs to overcome.”
Looking back, that was pure silliness. He did have emotional barriers and he had no desire of overcoming them. He was, by nature, avoidant, and he liked it that way. And he didn’t want to grow up (why grow up when you can smoke pot all day and have little to no responsibility?) Instead of accepting these traits for what they were and accepting the fact that there was nothing I could do to change them, I tried to force a square peg into a round hole and I did it over and over and over, as if I were mentally challenged. What do you mean this square won’t fit into this round hole? Like hell. I’ll make it fit if it’s the last thing I do. But it never fit, my friends. Never.
Was it Einstein who realized that insanity is when we do the same thing over and over, expecting a different result? Well, that’s what you are doing when you try to force something to be something it’s not. We cannot tug at the roots of our flowers in the winter to make them grow. We cannot capture a bullfrog and expect it to be a bluebird. And we cannot force a relationship to be something it’s not.
So, here are several situations to consider if you think you might be forcing a relationship, or if you think that maybe, it’s time to let go.
- You find yourself giving 80-100% most of the time to get your relationship to work.
- You’re frustrated with your partner and feel as though he or she isn’t “giving” enough.
- You meet with constant resistance or rejection from your partner— for example, if you ask him or her to go out with you (on a date, to the store, to see a friend, to come over, etc.) and “No” (or even, “Oh, I would love to, but I can’t”) is the usual response, then you are probably forcing the relationship and it’s time to step back.
- You are carrying the weight, making all the arrangements, doing all the talking, and generally “controlling” the relationship because he “can’t” or won’t.
- You find yourself begging or constantly trying to convince your partner to spend time with you: “Oh, come on. Let’s go away for the weekend. Please! It’s just two days. You can be back to work in no time. I sware I’ll let you have some time alone if you just come with me.”
- The effort is all on you in communication: you’re the one who calls, writes, texts, emails, and you’re the one who is first to engage (with little to no response from his end).
- You constantly wait for change: You believe if he/she will just change this one aspect then the two of you will have the perfect relationship.
- You find yourself alone more often than not.
- You push your partner even when you notice your partner retreating or shutting down and you continue to push him or her to be involved.
- You spend most or all of your time trying to make the relationship work: Relationships should be an enjoyment. They do take some work, but if you feel constantly stressed out, frustrated, sad, in pain, angry or apathetic, something is wrong.
When you have tried everything there is to get your partner to respond to you and take part in the relationship and it’s still not working, it’s time to accept that the relationship might not be working. Period. Further, ask yourself why you’re so unwilling to give up and move on. Do you not think you’re worth better treatment? Do you not know that relationships are supposed to be more peaceful, mutual and balanced? Figure out what’s holding you back and try to address any internal insecurities you may have. You may love someone truly, madly, deeply, and that someone may love you back. But if they don’t step up to the plate and put as much action and effort into the relationship, their words of love are meaningless. Their behavior is a sign that they do not want the same kind of mutual relationship you do. In recovery, you need to be willing to accept that and if necessary, move on.